Robert Townsend on Promoting From Within




Robert Chase Townsend (July 30, 1920 – January 12, 1998) was an American business executive and author who is noted for transforming Avis into a rental car giant. His famous book, Up the Organization, was a NYT Best Seller, and is considered required reading at many Universities. Townsend was a mentor to many, including Bob Davids.

The book is an easy read, which makes it a phenomenal read. It is only 175-pages long and has close to 100 chapters. Yes you read that correct, each chapter is only 1-2 pages. His writing is simple, entertaining, and to the point. Here is an example of a chapter:

Promotion From Within

Most managements complain about the lack of able people and go outside to fill key positions. Nonsense. Nobody inside an organization ever looked ready to move into a bigger job.

I use the rule of 50%. Try to find somebody inside the company with a record of success (in any area) and with the appetite for the job. If he looks like 50% of what you need, give him the job. In six months he’ll have grown the other 50% and everybody will be satisfied.

How to do it wrong: go outside and get some expensive guy who looks like 110% of what you want and a year later, after having raised salaries all around him, you’ll still be teaching him the business. The people around him will be frustrated and ineffective.

One of the keys is to pick someone within the company who has a well-deserved reputation as a winner. Not someone who looks to you like a potential winner but doesn’t happen to be fitting in very well where he is.

The organization will rally around an accepted winner, even when he’s temporarily over his head, because in their eyes he deserves the chance. The phony who conned you into giving him the job will go down for the third time and pull down everybody else he can reach.

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Intelligent Fanatics July 2018 Digest

A great video of Robert Townsend talking about his famous “We Try Harder” Ad campaign.